ELAP: Now that I’ve Read the Whole Thing…

I spent most of my spare time during the past week reading the Final Report and the Entry-Level Education Blueprint of the ELAP. Again, I will offer my appreciation for the collaboration of the Coalition and the team that actually performed the work on this. It was a big project and obviously, people took time away from their own pursuits to participate in it.

Now that I have read the whole thing in its entirety, I have a few observations on it. I quote from the Coalition statement:

We aspire to have this report influence several profession audiences:

• the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, which can use The Core as it builds guidelines for a model practice act;

My comment on that: The press release announcing that the FSMTB was going to create a Model Practice Act first appeared on April 1, 2011. In a letter I received dated Jan.31, 2014, FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger stated that the Task Force is currently completing the final revisions before releasing it for public comment.

It’s just my opinion that the ELAP will be a last-minute inclusion in that, if it does in fact get included.

• state licensing boards, which can use The Core in setting education requirements for licensees;

My comment on that: What is the Model Practice Act doing, if not that? It seems very possible that this is a duplication of efforts. While there are of course other things included in a practice act, one of them is spelling out the hours of required education. I don’t know any state board that goes much beyond setting the total number of required hours, and how that should be broken down in a general list of required subject matter. Not to mention changing a practice act requires legislative action.

the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, which can refer to The Core in creating teacher training standards and curricula;

My comment on that: Aha! And therein lies the clincher and the biggest issue I have with it. Since I couldn’t say it any better myself, I am going to share the comment that Rick Rosen left on my FB page:

“The critical missing element that will prevent the ELAP Core Curriculum from being implemented on a wide scale is the lack of teacher training in our field.

I simply cannot fathom why the cash-rich organizations in our field (AMTA, ABMP, FSMTB) would spend significant sums of money on a curriculum development project, while they continue to turn their back on providing the financial support needed to carry forward the Alliance’s National Teacher Education Standards Project. Without this long-term investment in teacher development, educational outcomes and the quality of massage therapy services delivered will remain inconsistent at best.

My comment on Rosen’s comment: Nailed it on the head. And it would be another interesting research project to determine what the average training is of teachers in massage schools across the US.

I will repeat Rosen’s sentiments by saying I would like to see all the organizations give this kind of support to the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education and their National Teacher Standards Education Project. 

The Alliance is the youngest organization out there, and does not yet have the kind of cash reserves built up to move this project along at a better pace. The fact is these kinds of projects do require money in order to come to fruition. The Alliance membership is made up of educators and industry partners, and will never have the kind of membership numbers enjoyed by the other organizations by virtue of that fact. I can visualize the ELAP being very useful to the teacher training project–but they need the money to make it happen. I urge our other organizations and industry supporters to put your money into this project.

• the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, which can use The Core as it identifies beginning vs. advanced knowledge and skills for its Board Certification credential;

My comment on that: The Board Certification exam is already out there and is still practically new. I don’t see any major revisions taking place on it any time soon. The NCBTMB is using their “old” certification exam for their entry-level licensing exams, and has been for years. As a certification exam and a licensing exam should require two different job task analysis surveys and one should not be interchangeable with the other, they are already in muddy water, and I don’t really see how this will clear it up. And, as is the case with the MBLEx, the exams that the NCB is using for entry-level licensing are geared to a 500-hour education requirement. Again, this would require major changes to that as well.

• professional membership organizations, which can use The Core in shaping membership criteria;

My comment on that: Pay the money, show proof that you are either a student or a licensee or a practitioner in an unregulated state, and boom! you’re a member. Within the past few months, myself and others made well-documented complaints about an unethical practitioner who was scamming fellow massage therapists and try as we might, we could not get her removed from the membership rolls of AMTA or the massage listing service. She has now finally been removed, after it was reported that she was also scamming her clients. Or she just didn’t pay her membership renewal fee. Either way, she’s no longer listed, but it took months to get any action on that front.

• the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, which can use the Core in evaluating massage and bodywork curricula for programmatic accreditation;

My comment on that: COMTA has had their competencies spelled out for years. The basic difference I see is that ELAP is spelling out the number of hours to be spent in each subject matter area.

• other accrediting organizations, which can use The Core in shaping their accreditation criteria;

My comment on that: COMTA is the only accreditation organization devoted to massage therapy (and they now also include asthetic programs). The other accreditation programs I am aware of approve of all kinds of schools and programs and use the same evaluation criteria for a massage program as they would an engine repair program. I don’t realistically see it having impact on these types of accrediting agencies, although it would be nice if it did.

• school owners, administrators and faculty, who can use The Core to strengthen or validate curricula and to adopt consistent learning outcomes;

My comment on that: I wholeheartedly agree. I encourage all school owners, administrators and faculty to read this document…and I know the majority won’t take the time. I have seen the prevailing attitude of “I’m not going to let anyone tell me what to do at my school,” when I have tried to promote COMTA accreditation (disclosure: I have been a COMTA peer reviewer). It doesn’t matter if it would vastly improve their existing program. Stubbornness is hard to overcome.

• and potential massage therapy students, as they consider where to enroll.

My comment on that: I would be shocked to know that any potential student is ever going to read the 527- page document to help them choose a school. Just my opinion.

More of my unsolicited opinion: I am not critical of this document on the whole. I think it spells out a good foundational education for entry-level massage therapists as it was meant to do, and it requires 625 hours to do it in.

There are still 26 states here with a 500-hour minimum requirement. While it is very true that there are many schools that exceed their state’s hour requirement, there are also a large number of school owners that are determined they are not ever going to do more than the state requires. Neither do I see it having much effect, if at all, in states that already have higher requirements for education.

The ELAP report states that a 2012 survey showed schools are teaching an average of 697 hours. Still, if this were to be legally adopted, which I think is a long shot at best, it would undoubtedly put some schools in the position of “cooperate or close down,” which in the general scheme of things, might not be a bad thing, if their students are not truly well-prepared.

I am just of the opinion that being prepared to pass an entry-level examination, and being prepared for the real world of massage, are two very different things. It also isn’t about hours, per se, but about competencies–a statement, in fairness, made in the ELAP–but it does take a certain number of hours to teach those competencies, and this is what the work group decided on.

Bottom line: I like it, but I do think that in spite of the Coalition statement of support, that there has been some unnecessary duplication of efforts on some of their parts here, and that a good curriculum can only be effective with good, well-trained teachers. I’d like to see an equal amount of time, money, and effort spent on the National Teacher Standards Education Project. 

 

 

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: FSMTB

Note: For the past few years I have done a series of reports on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I obtain this information from Guidestar, a financial information clearinghouse for non-profits. The organizations can provide their Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) to Guidestar, and if they don’t, the IRS does it for them. I will state for the record that I am not an accountant or a financial analyst; I just report what I see (and maybe offer a few opinions). I usually get asked the question every year why I am not reporting on ABMP. Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is a privately-owned for-profit company, and they are not obligated to release their financial information. Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us, and there is variance amongst them in when their fiscal year ends.

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is as usual, in excellent financial condition. For the fiscal year ending 06/30/2012, they are showing revenues of almost $5.2M, up about $857K from 2011. Their expenses were slightly over $3.3M, leaving their net revenue for the year at over $1.8M. They also have assets of over $3.8M. Not too shabby for an organization that isn’t even ten years old yet.

Unlike some of our other organizations, the Board of Directors of the Federation are not compensated, with the exception of being reimbursed for travel expenses. They’re all volunteers. The Executive Director, Debra Persinger, was paid reportable compensation of $231,472 and a little over $49K in other compensation. Non-profits have to report the salaries of the directors, trustees, and the highest-paid employees and there were no others listed. Other wages and salaries were less than $74K total.

Pearson-Vue was paid a little over $1.4M for delivery of the MBLEx. Exam processing and development accounted for another $1.4M. The exam revenues were over $5M so none of that seems out of line.Travel expenses amounted to slightly over $30K, conventions and  meetings were almost $69K, not an unreasonable figure since they have a presence at all national events and some state ones as well. Advertising expenses were less than $22K; office expenses were slightly over $18K.

There’s really no story, here, folks. The FSMTB seems to be in fine shape, not overextending themselves, and building up healthy cash reserves.

 

Calling All Massage Organizations: 911

I’ve seen some ups and downs since joining the massage profession about 15 years ago, but never, in all that time, have I been as disgusted and dismayed with one of our organizations as I am today. I feel as if I have a vested interest in all of them, so I have the right to complain—and to call on them for help.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork was the only path to licensing in many regulated states for a lot of years. Their exams are written into the statutes of about 40 states, as is the MBLEx, which has soared in popularity as the exam of choice in the past 5 years. The exam revenue at the NCBTMB has been steadily declining ever since the MBLEx debuted. The “National Certification Exams” as they formerly existed are the same exams being used for the NESL.

It used to be that taking one exam gave you the status of being Nationally Certified and being able to use that to get your license, but that’s no longer the case. There’s no attraction there anymore. The Federation has been in a position for several years to help solve this problem by buying out the NCBTMB’s entry-level exams; they certainly have the money and the infrastructure in place, but they have apparently preferred to stand by and watch the NCBTMB die a slow painful death rather than be in collaboration. Although I have favored the idea of such a deal in the past, at this point in time I am not going to blame the FSMTB for their refusal to play ball.

The majority of regulated states also have it written into their statutes that the continuing education required for maintaining licensure must be from a provider of CE that is approved by the NCBTMB.

As a provider of CE, I was not pleased when the Federation brought up their MOCC (Maintenance of Core Competencies) plan, which would have made all CE optional, with the exception of classes related to public protection, put forth online by them. My concern was that it would put a lot of CE providers, including me, out of business. In reality, based on some of the claptrap that is approved by the NCBTMB, there are a lot of CE providers that should be put out of business. The NCB’s response to my own repeated questioning of some of the things they have approved for CE has not been satisfactory to date.

According to FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger, they have let go of the MOCC plan, based on feedback from the profession and member boards. Instead, they have put forth a Standardized License Renewal Recommendation. In a nutshell, the language reads: Licensed massage and bodywork therapists will be required to complete six (6) hours of license renewal requirements annually. At least three (3) of the six hours must meet the State-sponsored Ethics and Professional Practice course requirements that specifically address content pertaining to public safety. The remaining three (3) hours could be exchanged for certain Professional Development activities, including but not limited to meeting accredited certification standards, community service, and research.

Bear in mind, that has not been written into the law anywhere yet that I am aware of, and it is what it is—a recommendation.

In my conversation with Persinger this afternoon, she informed me that the online classes pertaining to public protection will roll out in 2014, and that states that require in-person classes will still be able to have that. She also stated that at the annual meeting of the FSMTB held earlier this month, the member states asked that the Federation form a new CE Task Force to look into the possibility of approving continuing education.

I can recall what I thought was the beginning of the downhill slide at the NCBTMB…and it was years ago. I’ve seen an egomaniac that was hell-bent on bankrupting the organization elected to the Chair position. I’ve seen lawsuits filed against them by two of their former executive directors that dragged on for years. I’ve seen the lawsuits they have filed against state boards for getting rid of their exams. Yes, they had the legal right to do that, but in the big picture, it didn’t win any friends for them. I’ve seen the ridiculous, totally un-credible, fantasy-land classes that they have approved for CE credit. I’ve seen the failed plan to turn into a membership organization, which cost them several years of being banished from AMTA conventions.

I’ve also seen the failed attempt at an “Advanced Certification,” and the morphing of that into “Board Certification.” The NCBTMB website states that those who are currently Nationally Certified must transition to Board Certification by their next renewal. Unfortunately, I have heard this past week from two prominent massage therapists, both of whom had let their national certification expire 6-7 years ago, that they received invitations to be grandfathered in on the new Board Certification. They declined for ethical reasons. Personally, that makes me feel as if my own certification is about as valuable as a used dinner napkin.

I’ve seen their attempts to present themselves to massage schools and certificants as if they are some sort of regulatory organization by using language that insinuated that. I’ve seen their attempts to replace lost exam income by gouging the hell out of CE providers. It was only when they were faced with a mass walk-out of prominent providers, who said they would give it up, rather than go along with the plan, that they had to back up and punt.

I’ve seen times when people could not get a phone call or e-mail to the organization answered, and times when it took months for certificates and approvals to arrive, if they arrived at all. I’ve seen an example, just yesterday as a matter of fact, of them blocking people, including me, from posting on their FB page because they had the nerve to complain—and that was after the new Chair encouraged people on my own FB page to make their comments there. I’ve seen well-respected, seasoned colleagues who are experts in massage organizations and government relations offer to help them and give them advice about how to pull themselves out of some of the messes they’ve made, and I’ve seen that help refused or ignored time and time again. I’ve seen their adamant refusals to own up to their mistakes. My distress with them is not new. It’s just been festering for a long time.

I think the NCBTMB has reached the tipping point. Some would even say they are long past it. I have, in the past, given them hell about some things, and I’ve also come to their defense many times, including some when they probably didn’t deserve it. I have stated many times that I wanted to see them survive and thrive, and I sincerely meant that.

I am sad to say I am no longer holding out that hope. I am sad to say that I think they have outlived their usefulness. I am sad to say that I think their credibility has been shot beyond repair. I am sad to say that although there are staff and volunteers there that I personally know and like, and believe have the best of intentions, things have gone too far. They’ve had years to turn this ship around, and it hasn’t happened.

Therefore, I am calling on AMTA, ABMP, AFMTE, and FSMTB to immediately pull out all the stops and use all their available resources to help get the NCBTMB out of all statutes and administrative rules, as it relates to approval of their exams and use of their Approved CE Provider program. There are only a handful of states that approve their own CE, and if the NCBTMB were to suddenly go out of business, confusion is going to reign in those states that still have the NCBTMB exams and CE provider requirements written into the law.

Removing them from all statutory language in the regulated states doesn’t necessarily mean the NCBTMB will go away. They may continue to limp along for a few more years. They may someday come to their senses and create some valid specialty certifications, and reestablish themselves as a viable entity, but at this point in time, I doubt if they have the financial resources to do so. They’ve wasted a whole lot of money on their previous missteps.

Lest anyone get the idea that I am happy about making this request of our other organizations, let me assure you, I am not. I am sad to see that one of our national organizations has fallen this far. It’s time for positive action, and since they’re obviously not going to take it, the other organizations are going to have to seize the moment. I would suggest orchestrating a hostile takeover, but one of my colleagues who knows much more about regulation than I do informs me that’s impossible due to their structure, so this is the next best thing.

The FSMTB is able to offer government relations support to their member states, and AMTA and ABMP can afford the lobbyists. As a young organization, they don’t have enough resources yet, but with financial aid from the other organizations, AFMTE could be a great alternative approval body for CE. COMTA could possibly step into that role as well, but again, they don’t have the financial resources that the other organizations have. I call on all of them to set it in motion immediately to get the NCBTMB out of all statutes. We all know how slow the government moves so it won’t happen overnight, but I believe it has to happen. The FSMTB has been working on a Model Practice Act, so the time is ripe.

I also suggest that anyone who is Certified, as I have been since 2000, examine what that really means to you. Personally, I will not be renewing mine. There was a time when I was proud to say I was Nationally Certified. That time has now come and gone.

MOCC-ERY Redux

I have received the following from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. I personally think they are far off the mark on what they intend to do with continuing education, and with their refusal to consider any joint effort with the NCBTMB to organize and streamline the approval process for the good of all concerned. This is their MOCC-ERY plan redux, and it’s giving me a bad case of acid reflux. The first time this plan rolled around, the national office of AMTA responded by shooting 20 holes into it. Those holes are still there, and it is my fond hope that AMTA will reiterate its position.

This is nothing more than another ill-conceived ploy to put the NCBTMB out of business by taking CE out of their hands, making only what THEY want to be required–and furthermore, to require you to get it from them. To add insult to injury, the FSMTB proposes that THEY will choose the experts who will create the courses that YOU will be required to take from them on their website and occasional live classes. CE Providers might as well kiss your income goodbye. Give me a break. If this isn’t a naked power grab, I have never seen one. Here is the communication:

February 27, 2013
 
Dear Colleagues:
 
A White Paper circulating in professional and social media circles proposes the creation of a new organization to approve continuing education providers. FSMTB has not indicated support for such a move and would like to correct certain assumptions pertaining directly to the FSMTB that are made in the paper.
 
The most important reason for regulating the massage and bodywork profession is to ensure public protection and consumer confidence without unduly restricting the ability of licensed, professional therapists to make a living. To better address needs in the area of license renewal, the FSMTB was directed by a vote of its members (State boards and agencies that regulate massage and bodywork therapy) to develop and deliver a solution.
 
To do this, FSMTB looked at research and listened to experts, including consumers, educators, and the therapists themselves. Our recommendation was published in October 2012 in a paper called “Standardized Licensure Renewal Recommendation for Continuing Professional Competence“.  
   
Standardized Licensure Renewal Recommendation
Here’s what we believe is fair and reasonable to ensure competent licensed professionals and protection for the public they serve.
 
Licensed massage and bodywork therapists will be required to complete six (6) hours of license renewal requirements annually. At least three (3) of the six hours must meet the State-sponsored Ethics and Professional Practice course requirements that specifically address content pertaining to public safety. The remaining three (3) hours could be exchanged for certain Professional Development Activities, including but not limited to meeting accredited certification standards, community service, and research.
 
We further believe that it is preferable for all six hours of the license renewal requirements to be in the Ethics and Professional Practice areas, thus eliminating the need for therapists to engage in other activities or classes in order to renew their license. The rationale for limiting the licensing renewal requirements to the Ethics and Professional Practice areas is to ensure that therapists have standardized, current knowledge necessary for safe and competent practice. Additional activities and classes, though beneficial and encouraged, should not be required for re-licensure.
 
Recognizing that there will be a transition phase as the profession progresses, we will establish standards for acceptance of other Professional Development Activities for licensure renewal, such as attaining certifications and attending professional conferences. Again, these activities are to be encouraged but are beyond what should be required to maintain a license.
 
Our goal is to create easily accessible online courses each year on the topics that matter to the State boards, not just to address complaints or sub-standard practice, but to focus on issues such as ethical concerns and therapist safety. Our intent is not to compete with agencies already providing certifications or CE, but to ensure adequate attention to our area of emphasis, Ethics and Professional Practice.
 
For those without access to computers we are considering live classes at events where therapists already gather. We will select experts to work with our licensing boards to create the best courses and we encourage your participation.
 
For States that already have CE requirements, the FSMTB will establish Standards to assist States in determining Professional Development Activities that are acceptable during the transition. We are not proposing that we approve CE Providers, Instructors or Courses; instead, we are concentrating on an alternative solution to address the needs of the regulatory community and the therapists.
 
Considering licensure, we must keep in mind that a license does not reflect that a therapist is brilliant, enthusiastic, nice, or possesses a healing gift. Licensure demonstrates that a therapist has met basic professional standards and is entitled to legally practice.
 
Licensing boards:
-work for the public, not the profession.
-are created to regulate the profession, not elevate it.
-cannot require a double standard – education for experienced professionals that is different from that of entry level therapists.
-must provide the public with an avenue to address harm.
-ensure only that a licensed therapist meets standard competency levels to receive or renew a license.
 
In summary, our role and intent is to work with State boards to protect and to serve the public while at the same time offering a simplified, standardized and relevant solution for therapists.

All providers of continuing education need to contact dpersinger@fsmtb.org and jhuffman@fsmtb.org and let them know we do not want this plan shoved down our throats. Furthermore, providers and licensees can send a letter to your own state massage therapy board letting them know that you do not support this plan of the FSMTB to take over the CE business. Does a practitioner who has been in business 25 years really need to repeat the FSMTB-ordained ethics class for every renewal? Do not sit on your hands–send those emails right now and let the leadership of the FSMTB know you are against this plan.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Whether you prefer the Bob Dylan original version, or the popular treatment by Peter, Paul & Mary, we have our own version of Blowin’ in the Wind being sung by the leaders of FSMTB and NCBTMB.

My last blog (February 11) focused on problems with regulation of continuing education in the massage profession, and put the spotlight on a comprehensive white paper written by Rick Rosen that offers a innovative solution to a very confusing situation. There’s been a lot of activity around this issue, and from what I hear, a lot of CE providers have contacted FSMTB and NCB to express their displeasure with the programs each one has in the works. I believe that Rosen’s concept of a National Continuing Education Registry is the right tool for the job at this point in the massage therapy profession. It will require cooperation and collaboration from both organizations, and would utilize the talents and resources of both. To me that is a far superior state of affairs than the animosity and one-upmanship that has been the prevailing atmosphere between these two organizations for the past half-dozen years or so.

Over the past two weeks, information has come out of NCB that suggests they may be having second thoughts about their “upgraded” Board Approved CE Provider Program. Donna Sarvello, NCB’s CE manager, said, “Providers do not need to renew until their renewal date because while we are reviewing the new program we have reinstated the past program. I can’t give the exact details on the Organization status at this time because we are tweaking the details and then will put it out for public comment.”

If you look on the Continuing Education page on NCB’s website, there is no evidence of what Ms. Sarvello is talking about. The new Board Approved CE Provider Program is right there in all of its convoluted and excessive glory, with a demand that all providers have to renew with the new system by December 31 of this year. What are providers supposed to believe? I am personally choosing to believe Ms. Sarvello, and I advise the NCB to update the website immediately! Any time there is an update in information and/or policy, the stakeholders need to know that, and having incorrect information on the website for these past few weeks is just inexcusable. I am calling out the NCB to clear up this mass confusion right now by making DAILY updates if necessary. Even a message that says “Sorry, we haven’t decided what to do, so no action is expected of you at this time” would be superior to the incorrect instructions that are still posted.

The FSMTB is no clearer about their plans. Their President, Jaime Huffman, claims that FSMTB is not going to create a CE approval program. That just doesn’t jive with their Call for Participants to create three different volunteer workgroups as part of a new Licensure Renewal Committee. And their Standardized Licensure Renewal Recommendations adopted last year by the Board of Directors states that “FSMTB will establish standards for acceptance of professional development activities, including those offered by membership and voluntary certification organizations.” If that doesn’t sound like some kind of approval program, then what is it supposed to be?

The very latest word I’ve received is that the top two leaders from FSMTB and NCB have had “a conversation” about the continuing ed issue in the past week. That’s a positive development, but we don’t know a darn thing about what was discussed or what these two organizations might be willing to do. Whatever it is, it isn’t going to  happen overnight, but I am very pleased that they are finally at the point of having a discussion, something that Rick Rosen and I both have been calling for for a couple of years now.

In the meantime, keep those emails flowing in to Debra Persinger and Jaime Huffman at FSMTB, and Mike Williams and Sue Toscano at NCBTMB. Let ‘em know that you expect them to work together to forge a unified solution for how CE should be handled, while easing the regulatory burden on CE providers. The contact information for these two organizations is on page 17 of Rosen’s white paper, which can be accessed from this short link: http://tinyurl.com/NCER-Proposal-FEB2013

It’s time we harnessed the hot air that’s been blowing from these two stakeholder organizations, and direct it towards a positive solution that gives the massage profession what it’s really needing.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: FSMTB

Note: For the past few years I have done a series of reports on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I obtain this information from Guidestar, a financial information clearinghouse for non-profits. The organizations can provide their Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) to Guidestar, and if they don’t, the IRS does it for them. I will state for the record that I am not an accountant or a financial analyst; I just report what I see (and maybe offer a few opinions). I usually get asked the question every year why I am not reporting on ABMP. Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is a privately-owned for-profit company, and they are not obligated to release their financial information. Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us, and there is variance amongst them in when their fiscal year ends. The deadline for filing is the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of their fiscal year. An organization can also request and receive up to two 90-day extensions, and due to the number who haven’t filed yet for 2011, it appears that some of them have done that.

It’s business as usual at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards…they’re rolling in the dough, and they appear to be immune to the slow economy. For the fiscal year ending 06/30/2011, they are showing a total gross revenue of over $4.3 million, well over a million dollars up from the previous year. Their total assets increased in a year’s time by almost $1.3 million, while their liabilities went down to less than $16,000—down from over $218,000 the previous year. Their net revenue after expenses is almost $1.5 million, up over $490K since the previous year. Their theme song could be “We’re in the money.”

One difference in the Federation and other organizations is that their Board members do not receive any reportable compensation. The only compensation listed on the form for key personnel is that of Executive Director Debra Persinger, who was paid $196,324 and received an additional $23,039, which is just listed as “other compensation from the organization and related organizations.” I’ve heard through the grapevine that she has received a big raise since this form was filed, but I guess we won’t know until next year.They do show about $24K in other salaries; I assume that is the office assistant. They don’t have a big staff.

I have to say that I find it a little bit funny that they only spent $5500 on advertising. I spent more than twice that advertising my massage business. “Occupancy” is listed as over $19,000; and travel is listed at a little over $14K. While I realize the need to travel to meetings and conventions, I will say one thing. When the FSMTB first came on the scene, they were very critical of the NCBTMB spending the stakeholder’s money holding meetings in fancy places….so I personally think they ought to police themselves a little more. This year, I hear they had a meeting in the Trump Tower in Manhattan–not exactly the Holiday Inn, I imagine.

Other than Persinger’s salary, their primary expenses are over $1.2 million paid to Pearson Vue for exam delivery, almost $900K to PCS for exam processing, and a little over $110K to Meaningful Measurement for exam development.Their office expenses were only about $15K.

No need to bore you with line-by-line details. I’ll just say the Federation is the poster child for being in good financial shape and let it go with that.

MOCC-ERY

Last week, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards presented their long-awaited proposal for a new national continuing education approval program. They are calling it Maintenance of Core Competencies – or MOCC for short. As I indicated in my previous post, this proposal not only failed to deliver on the original promises made by FSMTB, it has turned the entire professional landscape on its ear by recommending that most continuing education should be voluntary, not mandatory for license renewal.

Under this “MOCC-ERY” of a plan, the only mandatory components of continuing education would be those FSMTB deems to be relevant to “public safety”. If that’s not bad enough, FSMTB is proposing to take control over the design and delivery of these courses. Except it isn’t continuing education … it’s proving that you still know the things you should have learned in entry-level massage training as it pertains to protection of the public.

As a licensed therapist, do you want to be taken back to subjects like Ethics 101, principles of hygiene and sanitation, and the naming of unsafe massage practices – EVERY TIME YOU HAVE TO RENEW YOUR LICENSE? I’ve been teaching professional ethics for 14 years, and frankly, I find this proposal to be an insult to my intelligence.

I was very gratified today to receive the press release from AMTA denouncing the plan. In part, important communication states:

“AMTA reviewed the proposal and has many concerns with the approach of the FSMTB, the proposal itself, its inconsistencies and the lack of support provided for their view. Some of our specific areas of concern are:

  • –Overall, the impact of this proposal is to lower standards for massage therapy practice. It would shift the focus of professional development from building on the entry level education massage therapists receive to that of maintaining very minimal requirements of public protection.
  • –The proposal contradicts its stated intent, previous FSMTB statements on the need for continuing professional education and the mission of FSMTB.
  • –The proposal would take away the freedom of choice of massage therapists to determine their own practice focus and to choose the continuing education providers they prefer to meet their own professional needs by creating a “one-size-fits-all” approach for license renewal.
  • –The proposal provides no empirical data to support the efficacy, efficiency or necessity for a transition to this model.”

AMTA goes on to list 20 objections in their press release.

Although ABMP as an organization has not yet made an official statement, ABMP President Les Sweeney came out in support of the MOCC Proposal in his recent blog. In addition to being a member of AMTA, I am also a member of ABMP. I think highly of Les and the rest of the management there, but this is one of those times when we’ll have to agree to disagree. Les does state that he supports the role of the NCBTMB in the arena of continuing education; but he personally thinks CE should be voluntary. That is a major policy statement coming from the top guy at the largest professional membership association in our field.

The thing that is most outrageous and unacceptable about the MOCC Proposal is not the “public protection” course material that could be mandatory for therapists. It is the fact that leaders of four of our major stakeholder organizations in the field came together behind closed doors and decided that the majority of continuing education should no longer be mandatory.

It looks like there may have been major flaws in the process that led to this consensus document. Was the work of the eight-member Task Force shared with the full leadership of AMTA, ABMP, AFMTE and FSMTB with sufficient time to review and comment on this plan before it was published? Something doesn’t line up when AMTA comes out with a total smackdown of the plan, while their Immediate Past President was part of the team that was responsible for its development. Does that seem odd to you?

What we do know is that the decision making process took place in a vacuum, and there was no opportunity for public comment. Yes, the disclaimer says that “The MOCC is just a proposal and we’re seeking your feedback”, but input should have been sought from a broad range of constituents in the field before such a proposal was even made.

Continuing education classes that actually teach you anything new, under their plan, will become optional. Only the classes from the Federation, which they plan to make available on their website, will be required for license renewal. My opinion is that instead of being satisfied that the MBLEx has taken most of the exam revenue away from the NCBTMB, they would now like to take the continuing education dollars away, too. This plan will not only take dollars away from the NCBTMB, but also away from continuing education providers. (Disclosure: I am an NCBTMB Approved Provider of Continuing Education.)

The Task Force intentionally excluded representatives from the NCBTMB, and that’s another point that disturbs me. The Federation should be working in collaboration with NCBTMB. I was present at the AFMTE 2011 Annual Conference during FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger’s initial presentation about the Federation’s intent to create a CE approval program. NCBTMB Chair Alexa Zaledonis was in the audience at this session, and she publicly stated that her organization was willing to cooperate with FSMTB. It’s a shame to me that in light of their 20 years of experience in administering CE provider approvals, they are being left out of this loop. I’m gratified to see they’re not waiting around for an invitation, but instead, have gotten on with the business of making their own improvements.

In May 2011, NCBTMB convened a meeting of the Massage Approved Provider Panel, which was intended to improve and enhance their current CE approval program. Most of the stakeholder organizations in the field were represented there, including FSMTB. Based on feedback from the participants, NCBTMB will begin reviewing and approving CE courses as well as CE providers this summer.

Personally, I did learn what I needed to know about protection of the public while I was in massage school. I am one of those people who enjoy attending continuing education courses. I don’t want it to be mandated to me that I have to take a no-fail test—which isn’t really a test if you can’t fail it, is it, of things that I already know—to meet my license renewal requirements. I don’t think that serves me, as a massage therapist, and I can’t see how it’s going to serve the public. The Federation seems to think this will wipe out complaints of unethical or unsafe behavior. I don’t believe that for one minute. Anyone who is going to act unethically is going to do it, no matter how many classes they take or whom they take them from. Unsafe behavior needs to be addressed in entry-level massage school. I would much prefer to see the FSMTB come up with a model program of public safety education for schools, instead of requiring therapists who have been practicing for years to take a ridiculous no-fail test.

Times are changing, as Les said in his blog, and our organizations are changing with them. It remains to be seen whether it’s for the better or the worse. I have supported the FSMTB in the past, because I believe the state boards coming together in an effort to solve common problems is a good thing. I still believe that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this is an example of the kind work they should be doing, or the way they should be doing it. You can let them know how you feel about it here.

The Leaders of the Massage Profession

Last week, the leaders of all the major organizations representing the massage therapy profession came together in St. Louis for a Massage Therapy Leadership Summit.

The Leaders of the Massage Profession

The Leaders of the Massage ProfessionMassage Therapy Leadership Summit meeting. The executive directors, CEOs, and board chairs of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork were all in attendance.

I have personally prayed for this to happen for a long time, and was thrilled that it took place. Rick Rosen, Executive Director of the AFMTE, shared this photo on my Facebook page. I of course spread it through my networks, and it prompted a question from Julie Onofrio: “Are these people massage therapists, and have they ever been in practice?” I’ll try to answer that to the best of my ability. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all these folks, and I know some of them better than others. In the event I get any of the facts wrong here, I’m sure someone can straighten me out!

I will say up front that as for the most part these are organizations that have many members, huge budgets, and myriad issues and details to take care of, I don’t believe that being a massage therapist is a prerequisite for being a CEO or an ED. That is a position that generally requires a college education, and enough expertise to run a multi-million dollar concern. The AFMTE is only two years old–they don’t quite fall into that category yet, but they will someday. Leadership of such an organization doesn’t necessarily require one to be a massage therapist, although it would certainly require an interest in massage. Here’s my scoop on the leaders:

Rick Rosen, the founder and Executive Director of the AFMTE is indeed a licensed massage therapist. In fact, he is the proud owner of the first massage therapy license issued in the state of North Carolina. He is the co-founder, along with his wife Carey Smith, of the Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, NC, which they started in 1983. It is one of only two COMTA-approved schools in the state. He was the founding chairman and a past member of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy, and was the first Executive Director of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, a national organization for massage schools, teachers and continuing education providers. Rick is a 2010 inductee into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame, and was named as one of the Top 10 People in Integrative Medicine/Integrative Health Care in 2010. He also has a degree in advertising from the University of Florida, a master’s in humanistic psychology from West Georgia College, is certified by the Hakomi Institute body-centered psychology, is certified in structural integration, and is a graduate of the Florida School of Massage.

Pete Whitridge, the President of the AFMTE, has been a massage therapist since 1987 and has been an instructor at the Florida School of Massage since 1989. He has served AMTA on the Council of Schools, served 5 years on the Florida Board of Massage including being the Chair, served COMTA as a reviewer, has also served on the faculty of the Spacecoast Health Institute for 14 years, and Indian River Community College for 7 years. He is also on the Education Committee of the Massage Therapy Foundation. Pete also has a BA in History and Political Science.

Shelly Johnson, Executive Director of AMTA, served as the Deputy Director for 8 years before being named ED in 2010 after the departure of Elizabeth Lucas. Shelly is not a massage therapist, but she has worked with associations for 22 years, including the American Society for Quality. She also was previously Executive Director for the American Society of Neuroscience Nurses, the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing, the Neuroscience Nursing Foundation and the American Society for Healthcare Materials Management of the American Hospital Association. Johnson has a BA in Political Science and Communication from Augsburg College.

Glenath Moyle, President of AMTA, gets the longevity award in this crowd! Glenath has been doing massage for more than 50 years. In her first career, she was a geriatric nurse, and massaging patients was a regular part of her routine. She attended massage school in Portland OR and started practicing in earnest in 1987. Prior to becoming the President of the national organization, Moyle was a tireless volunteer in her state chapter. Needless to say, she’s very excited that the national convention is coming to her hometown this year.

Bob Benson, the Chair of ABMP, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Prior to coming to ABMP, Benson worked in public policy in Washington, DC, and spent 19 years as President of two public companies. The membership of ABMP has grown by more than 10 times over since Benson came on the scene. He was the catalyst for the creation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, notably funding that organization to get it off the ground, and he worked for nine years to get statewide regulation in California, where he now serves on the board of the California Massage Therapy Council.

Les is More! Les Sweeney, President of ABMP, joined the organization in 1994 after learning about association management at the Club Managers Association of America. He served as VP from 1999-2006. Sweeney has an MBA from the University of Colorado. In 2006, Les decided to step up to the plate and get an education in massage! He graduated from the Holistic Learning Center in Evergreen and became Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage. Les has expressed to me personally that he just wanted to know more about massage and get the “real feel” for what ABMP members do. Good for him for taking the plunge and investing in that.

Kate Zulaski is the Executive Director of COMTA. She has a BA in Geology, and attended the Institute for Psycho-Structural Balancing in CA, and went on to become the Dean of Education at the school before joining COMTA in 2009.

Kate has in-depth experience both as a massage therapy practitioner as well as an educator, having most recently served as Dean of Education from 2006 to 2009 for the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB) in San Diego, California. Prior to being named Dean of Education, Zulaski also served as an IPSB Massage Instructor and Clinic Supervisor.  Zulaski has also studied a variety of bodywork modalities through the California Naturopathic College; Society of Ortho-Bionomy International; the Natural Healing Institute; and the International Professional School of Bodywork. She has been active in volunteer work for the AMTA Teacher of the Year Awards Committee and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education Standards Committee, and is a long-time member of the ABMP.

Randy Swenson, a COMTA Commissioner who was also present, is a chiropractor. Dr. Swenson is currently a tenured professor and Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences at National University of Health Sciences (NUHS). He developed the Massage Therapy Program in 1999 and continues to manage the day-to-day operations of the program. He is also responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree completion and professional pre-requisite programs. He was previously the Academic Dean and the Dean of Curriculum Development for the chiropractic program at NUHS. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from NUHS and a Master of Health Professions Education from the Department of Medical Education of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has led NUHS Steering Committees for Higher Learning Commission Self-Study Reports (SSR) and Commission on Chiropractic Education SSR’s. He has led and written COMTA SSR’s for the NUHS massage program. Dr. Swenson has been a site-team member, site-team leader and off-site peer reviewer with COMTA since 2006.

Ruth Werner, fearless leader of the Massage Therapy Foundation, is the author of the Guide to Pathology for Massage Therapists and the Disease Handbook for Massage Therapists, both published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Werner is a graduate of the Brian Utting School of Massage in Seattle in 1985, and completed the Advanced Training Program and Teacher Training Program with the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, MA in 1991. I’ve attended a couple of classes (a definite privilege!) taught by Ruth, where she honestly shared with the class that she feels her real talent is sharing research about massage rather than actually doing massage. We’d all be a lot worse off if that wasn’t so. Her pathology book has been my go-to source from the moment I entered massage school. She has taught curriculum at 4 massage schools and continuing education classes all over the world.

Debra Persinger, Executive Director of the FSMTB, has a PhD in human services from Kansas State University. Dr. Persinger, a native of New Zealand, joined the National Certifying Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) in 1996. Before accepting the position of interim CEO, she served as the commission’s executive director of operations, and was originally hired to be its director of examination development. Persinger is also co-author of Sand to Sky: Conversations with Teachers of Asian Medicine (iUniverse, 2008).

Paul Lindamood, current CEO of the NCBTMB, has more than 20 years of executive-level experience. Lindamood has devoted his career to positioning, directing and promoting associations, professional firms, healthcare organizations, businesses and non-profits. In fact, it was in this capacity that he first began working with NCBTMB, directing the organization’s communications, public relations, media and re-branding strategies. He has worked with a wide-range of healthcare and non-profit organizations and led successful branding, fundraising, recruitment and consumer awareness initiatives for American Red Cross, United Way, International Association of Business Communicators, Jobs for Graduates, Leukemia Society of America, March of Dimes, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, City of Hope, Hospice, Junior Achievement, Small Business Administration, and many others.

Alexa Zaledonis, Chair of the NCBTMB, is the owner/operator of Even Keel Wellness Spa, a therapeutic massage and skin care center in Annapolis, Maryland. A graduate of the Baltimore School of Massage, she passed the NCE in 2002 and has spent the past seven years building her practice in the community.  Zaledonis is a certified Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage practitioner and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength Professionals Association. Zaledonis currently is completing her Yoga Teacher Training (RYT200). She also teaches Thai Massage seminars at Even Keel Institute for Continuing Education and is an NCBTMB-approved provider.

A former Certified Public Accountant, Zaledonis specialized in healthcare and nonprofit organizations for more than 15 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. I spoke to Zaledonis earlier today, and she told me that in addition to working 40 hours a week on behalf of the NCBTMB, she also personally does an average of 17 massages a week. A fellow workaholic!

Well, folks, there you have it. So yes, many of these folks do have actual massage experience. And those that don’t have been around this business long enough to appreciate those of us who do. They have all, in my opinion, served the massage profession with the best of intentions and keeping their eyes on the fact that it is the massage therapists in the trenches that they are working for. May they all enjoy peace and prosperity.

CE Providers: Expenses Going Up, Income Going Down

In January of this year, I blogged Continuing Education Providers: Sink or Swim, and followed up that one with the report from the meeting convened by the NCBTMB, where profession leaders were invited to give input into the revamping of their Approved Provider program.

Last week at the wonderful annual meeting of the AFMTE, one of the presentations was by Debra Persinger, Executive Director of the FSMTB, who talked about the intention of the FSMTB to start approving continuing education. One of the burning questions from the audience was “how much is this going to cost us?”, a question without an answer as of yet, since their program is still in the planning stages. Knowing the folks at the FSMTB, I don’t expect it to be anything I would classify as exorbitant, but unless it’s free, it will still be one more expense for us to pay.

I’ve previously mentioned the states who have their own approval process–and accompanying fees to pay–for continuing education providers. With the exception of Florida, who doesn’t charge you additional money if you are already an Approved Provider under the NCBTMB, these range from a couple of hundred dollars to “you don’t want to know.”  There’s a reason why I’m not teaching in those states…it isn’t worth it to me, at this stage of my career, to lay out hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and in some cases to complete a mountain of paperwork, to teach in a location that I may visit only once.

Another unfortunate trend is all the expense associated with presenting at trade shows, spa exhibitions, and conferences.  At many of these events, not only do you not get paid to teach; in some cases you actually have to pay for the privilege. Big companies who budget thousands of dollars into their advertising plan can afford to pay a big price for a booth. With a few of the heavy hitters being the exception, the average individual provider cannot. It’s a Catch-22 of spending the big bucks to get your name out there, and then rolling the dice to see if you’re going to be able to recoup that in sales–assuming you have anything to sell. Some teachers are just that–teachers–and they’re not necessarily textbook authors or purveyors of DVDs, home study courses, etc.

I’ve been an Approved Provider since 2000, and I have organizational approval. I have a classroom at my facility in Rutherfordton, NC, where I teach myself and host other instructors. During the recession of the past three years, I’ve had to cancel classes that some of the most well-known teachers in massage were scheduled to offer. Some of them didn’t receive as much as one inquiry about the class. In addition to mailing to licensees, advertising in a number of venues, my publicizing it to my email lists and social networks and them publicizing it to their own substantial lists, it just didn’t happen.  The classes that did happen have tended to be the ones taught by more local teachers, not as well-known, and not as expensive, as some of the big names.

Some perfectly competent, long-standing, and popular teachers have suffered to the point of drastically reducing the price of classes in order to fill seats and maintain their income. One of the most well-known teachers told me a few weeks ago that his teaching income was down $70,000 last year due to the recession. I know many who have never made that kind of money in any year, and their loss has been proportionate.

All the expense associated with teaching continuing education, in my opinion, is going to have some serious fallout. Some talented, but not necessarily famous, instructors will give it up because they just can’t afford to keep on doing it. By the time you provide handouts, pay your own travel expenses, advertise your class, ship whatever books or products you might have to offer, your profit has flown out the window along with the ridiculous price of your airline ticket.

True, some well-known providers have corporate sponsorship. Those are the exception; not the rule. Corporate sponsorship usually goes to those who are already at the top. They want someone with name recognition whose picture looks good in their advertising and helps sell their products. There are only so many big corporate sponsors. Small, but quality, companies often don’t have that money to spare.

It will be interesting to see how the CE environment changes when the FSMTB gets their program up and running. Their mission is public protection, and during her talk, Persinger addressed that fact. I don’t think the Federation intends to start approving Reiki classes, although I could be wrong. I believe their intent is to approve classes that have a direct bearing on public protection, such as ethics, contraindications and the like.

The lack of income is not just an issue for CE providers. Massage schools are notorious for low pay, and therein lies one of the problems in attracting quality teachers. They may deservedly feel they’re better off doing massage for $60 an hour than teaching for $20 an hour. Most of them don’t do it for the money. They do it because they love to teach.

That’s why I do it. I don’t have a corporate sponsor. I can’t afford to go everywhere I’d like to go. I fit in as many events as I can, and sometimes I have to pass one up. I know a lot of providers in the same position. I had many people say to me last week that they would have liked to attend the AFMTE conference but just couldn’t because of finances. Even when a conference is reasonably priced (as that one was), travel, hotel, meals, missing income when you’re gone from your office, or paying someone to be there covering your office when you’re not, adds up.

I’m hopeful that the education atmosphere is going up, along with income for those who provide it. It really doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

Report from the AFMTE Annual Meeting

I’ve just returned from the second annual meeting of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education in Charleston, SC.  It was an excellent gathering from start to finish.

There were keynote speakers throughout the weekend, daily opportunities for those present to give input into the initiative on teacher standards the Alliance is undertaking, informative continuing education classes, group sessions, a comfortable setting, and plenty of socializing with friends and colleagues.

The first keynote address, “Creating a Culture of Teacher Excellence,” was given by Tracy A Ortelli, an education director from the nursing field who has vast experience in implementing standards of teaching excellence in that profession. She was a good choice since the same difficulties basically face any licensed profession when their educational objectives are evolving with no way to go but up. She was very engaging and had a lot of expert advice to share…including what personally jumped out at me:  “Do not assume that people learn to be teachers through on-the-job-training, or ‘trial by fire’, rather than through planned, deliberate preparation.” Timely advice for all those last year’s students who are this year’s teachers, and those who place them in those positions.

Executive Director Rick Rosen gave a report on the state of the Alliance, including the good news that attendance at this year’s meeting was up 50% from last year’s inaugural session. Rosen also shared the details of the simplified dues structure and the many new and improved benefits that are a part of Alliance membership.

Becky Blessing gave presentations on the Alliance Code of Ethics and the National Teacher Education Standards Project, and Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers. I attended all three. Ben Benjamin spoke about the dynamics of effective communications. I attended a presentation on government relations led by Sally Hacking, the Queen of Government Relations (she’s actually the GR rep for the FSMTB, but she’s been doing this for 40  years for a number of entities so she’s the Queen to me) and Pete Whitridge, President of the BOD of the AFMTE.

I also attended a session on the proposed new CE approval program of the Federation led by Debra Persinger, and their new CE project coordinator Lorena Haynes, with Sally occasionally making clarifications. Among the attendees at that meeting were Alexa Zaledonis, Chair of the NCBTMB and Sue Toscano, Chair-Elect. They were a class act in that meeting and expressed their willingness to cooperate and collaborate with the FSMTB, an attitude  that would do well for all concerned to adopt. It was a lively discussion. Jan Schwartz also gave a great presentation, “The Role of Massage in Complimentary Health Care.”  Other topics for massage schools, instructors, and CE providers, including instructional design, financial aid participation for schools, increasing enrollment, and ethics in education were covered by Iris Burman and Cherie Sohnen-Moe, massage school marketing strategist Lex Filipowski, Anne Williams, Dr. Tony Mirando and Demara Stamler, and Nancy Dail.

In between all this great education, I had dinner with Sally and Ed Hacking and Jan Schwartz, enjoyed a fabulous dinner another night with Lynda Solien-Wolfe and ten other friends, and got to chat with Anne Williams and Les Sweeney, Winona Bontrager, Sandy Fritz, Ariana Vincent, Sharon Puszko, Cherie Sohnen-Moe and lots of other folks. Ruth Werner pointed out to me that she had counted nine textbook authors present. Incidentally, Ed Hacking is also 350 pages in to a book he is writing. He let me read the first chapter. I hope I’m still able to write a book when I’m 94! Ed is one smart fellow. I also taped an interview with Ryan Hoyme, the Massage Nerd, and afterward we spontaneously decided to tape a promo for the Alliance, which ended up getting shown at the meeting.  That was my first effort as a volunteer for the membership committee. Lynda Solien-Wolfe also gathered me, Bruce Baltz, Cherie, Ralph Stephens, Linda Beach, Anita Shannon and others for a roundtable interview for Performance Health and BioFreeze.

North Carolina had a big contingent present at the meeting: Gloria Coppola, Claire Marie Miller, Anita Shannon, Cynthia Loving, Nancy Toner Weinberger, and several more. Industry partners and association members, including Bon Vital, COMTA, the Massage Therapy Foundation, Mother Earth Pillows, NACCAS, Massage Register, and several others had exhibits that were well-visited.

So much happened, I feel like I haven’t covered half of it, and I could go on and on about the wonderful gathering of educators and the work and camaraderie that took place, but I’m going to cut to the chase: every educator needs to join the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. Whether you are a school owner, program director, CE provider, or industry support partner, the Alliance is going to accomplish great things for the advancement of massage therapy education. This is an opportunity to have a voice and a partnership in many resources for that, and I encourage you not to pass it by. Jan Schwartz closed her presentation with a line I’m going to steal: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Come to the table. Visit the Alliance website at www.afmte.org and join today.